Conflicting Interests

| September 7, 2016

) Describe two ethical philosophies that might help with the decision.

2) Make a recommendation for how you would advise Mary Alice to act.

3) Provide a description of the process you used to arrive at the recommendation.

4) Are there limitations or possible unintended consequences associated with your recommendations? Explain and justify your claims.


Mary Alice is an HR generalist assigned to the Norwalk plant of FMC Inc. She has worked at the plant for six years and knows many of the employees, both as co-workers and from community activities. For the past several months, Mary Alice has been involved in confidential discussions regarding several of the Norwalk production processes moving to the Huntsville plant, which is operating under capacity. Only a handful of the Norwalk employees will be offered the opportunity to move to Huntsville and about 200 employees will be laid off. The announcement is going to be made in 60 days.

At a school fundraiser last evening, Ralph, a co-worker who is most likely going to be laid off, spent time talking with Mary Alice about the new home he was purchasing. The mortgage is at the limit of what Ralph’s family can afford, but as he explained to Mary Alice, with FMC doing so well and the likelihood of him getting overtime in the coming year, well, they could just about swing it.

Mary Alice was conflicted. She wanted to tell Ralph about the coming layoffs, but she was bound by her pledge of confidentiality regarding the layoff discussions. Also, if she said something to Ralph, it would undoubtedly get out and perhaps cause a panic and eliminate the chance for an orderly transition to the smaller operation in Norwalk, hurting plant productivity in the meantime. Mary Alice can’t seem to find a way to make a decision. What should Mary Alice do and why?

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